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Animal. 2010 Jan;4(1):116-21. doi: 10.1017/S1751731109990930.

Effect of water trough type on the drinking behaviour of pasture-based beef heifers.

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  • 11LETA, Departamento de Zootecnia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Avenida Admar Gonzaga, 1346, Florianópolis, SC 88034-001, Brazil.


The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of different trough types on the water consumption and drinking behaviour of pasture-based beef heifers. Two trials were implemented with 32 beef heifers to test two different types of water troughs, namely a rectangular concrete trough (RC) and a round polyvinyl chloride water tank (PVC). In Trial 1, both troughs were simultaneously available to groups of four animals within eight paddocks. In Trial 2, the animals were distributed in pairs throughout 16 paddocks and, in a crossover design, were exposed to one type of trough at a time. In both trials, estimated water intake was per four animals. Number of drinking bouts, time spent drinking and amount of water intake from the RC and PVC trough were recorded in both trials. Data were statistically analysed by analysis of variance. In Trial 1, group and trough effect were in the model. In Trial 2, stage, pair and trough were tested. In Trial 1, where both types of troughs were available, animals had a higher number of drinking bouts (3.32 v. 0.57 ± 0.09; P < 0.01), longer drinking periods (144.21 v. 22.81 ± 7.3 s; P < 0.01) and greater intake (160.21 v. 23.76 ± 13.06 l; P < 0.01) from the PVC water tank, compared to the RC trough. In Trial 2, all groups drank more often (5.10 v. 3.28 ± 0.32; P < 0.001), for longer periods (167.23 v. 115.23 ± 15.61 s; P < 0.02) and with higher intake (141.36 v. 118.47 ± 5.01 l; P < 0.02) from the PVC than from the RC trough. Thus, heifers not only prefer, but also drink more from a PVC water tank in comparison to a RC trough.

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